I’m always fascinated with the way that HR labels things. Whether it is a chart, a report, a box on the “9box,” or a rating model, it doesn’t take long to notice a trend.
There are very few “bad” labels in an HR report. This is a group that really cares about your self-esteem.
They don’t want to label you as an underachiever or bad at your job – nope — you are misaligned talent.
I’m all about job fit, but part of job fit is getting real with yourself about where you are good and where you are not.
What about those parts of the job that are less about skill and more about hard work?
Where is the affordance for feedback about the fact that you might be skilled, but you might also be lazy or having an attitude problem that is bringing down the whole group?
In the end, I think the hesitation to say anything specific and constructive impacts the reputation of the whole function. I would like to encourage HR leaders to jump into the feedback topic with a more honest approach. Spare me the euphemisms and help my leaders have those tough conversations.
Give them words.
I’m fine that you make sure that they are not hurtful, but don’t wash out the meaning in that process. Feedback is tough and it is tricky, but to get results, it must be understood.
This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.
We talk a lot about how effective performance management requires regular coaching and feedback. As luck would have it, I have been giving and receiving said feedback lately and so I’ve been thinking about what makes for good feedback.
I think the most critical element of effective coaching is intention. When you share feedback with an individual do you do it with honest intentions? Do you want that feedback to be heard? If so, you need to consider how it will be received. Often times, the most important feedback is delivered in a way that it is of little or no use to the person who receives it. This is the worst possible outcome for all involved. The person receiving the feedback is hurt and now feels betrayed by the person giving the feedback and the person giving the feedback considers herself in a no win situation so avoids ever doing it again.
To help you avoid these pitfalls, I thought I’d offer some suggestions for your consideration. The next time you need to give feedback I recommend you:
- Evaluate your intention – are you giving feedback to help the person grow? If so, can you present it in a way that your intention is clear? You are not attempting to tell someone that they have something in their teeth to make them feel badly, you are doing it avoid having them feel badly. Building up a relationship of trust with the person and helping them understand your intention, will help them hear you. If they can’t hear you there was little value in providing the feedback.
- Share your thinking – giving the person the broader context of your thinking can really help them understand what you are saying and put it to use. If you just tell someone “don’t do this anymore” you often trigger their defense mechanism. Natural skepticism can kick in such that they might disregard your feedback, justifying to themselves that, you might just be wrong. Explaining why a certain behavior might be sabotoging their broader goals (and giving examples), will help them understand and digest the feedback in a way that moves them closer to addressing the issue.
- Balance the feedback — only pointing out flaws can give the recipient a “mother-in-law” bias against your views. If you are always pointing out what is wrong with someone, they are inclined to think that there is no pleasing you anyway. Again, not a reaction that will cause someone to be open to taking action on your suggestions
- Don’t forget to say the good stuff – do not take it as a given that the person receiving the feedback knows what you appreciate about them. Even if they do, I know of no person who wouldn’t enjoy having it repeated. Feedback is more helpful when it’s positive anyway.
Lastly, I would encourage you to do more feedback. For your peers, for your management, for your employees. Like anything else we get better with practice, so please do make coaching and feedback part of your personal style. When good feedback happens, everyone benefits.
While before I was talking about feedback in general, today I want to talk specifically about positive feedback. I really enjoyed this posting that discusses the merits of praise, possibly enhanced by this one for those of you who prefer brevity.
Just coming back from The Conference Boards “Employee Engagement and Retention Conference” last week, I was struck by just how far we have to go in this area. One point that summed it up for me was this set of questions/responses.
When asked “do you need encouragement to do your best at work?”
20% replied yes.
When asked “When you get encouragement, does it motivate you to do your best?”
90% replied yes.
We all read this and think “of course”, we know this. So I ask you, when was the last time you said “thanks”?
Does your team make it a standard practice to recognize the contributions in an authentic and timely way? Why do we understand so easily when training puppies that rewarding good behavior causes them to behave, but with people we focus on “constructive feedback” (and maybe once a year?!) and expect that to yield results.
I would encourage you to consider making a serious [focused] effort to say thank you more often. Not only will it help someone be motivated to continue to do their best, it might also help you to always look on the bright side of life.